I just figured out why I still have not watched the NBC show "Parenthood," despite being implored to watch it by countless friends and family members. Apparently, one of the characters on the show so greatly resembles my son that everyone feels that I really need to watch it. Though I never have.
It's not because I don't like getting into a TV series. It's not because I don't have a TV (I don't, but that doesn't stop me from watching shows in this modern era of the Internet).
But I think it is because I am already living this life with a challenging, bright, frustrating, awesome, difficult, and totally lovable Aspie boy in the flesh and I don't feel that I need to spend hours each week watching a fictional show of a family going through the same thing.
Some would say that that is exactly why I should watch it--because the family on the show supposedly knows how we feel--and I can feel that we're not alone while watching it. My response to that is that we already feel that we're not alone because of the support system we have in place made up of real people with Aspie kids in our area and real professionals here who help us daily. And on the days when I do feel alone, I can promise you that watching a piece of fiction wouldn't change that. Those are the days when I need to have coffee with a friend--parent of an Aspie or not--to ground myself again.
But what I do think is cool about the "Parenthood" show, and what I am grateful for that is a result of all of these incredibly well-meaning suggestions that I watch it, is that it has helped EVERYONE ELSE understand what we're going through a little bit more, without us having to school everyone personally. Each person who makes the connection that the little boy on the show is a lot like Jackson, and then watches a difficult situation on the screen or sees the family's joy in his intense abilities in another area, also makes the connection that our days in this family, in this house, with this child, are a lot like that show. (For better or for worse, since I've never seen it.) They might be realizing why play dates are not always graceful for us, why we hover and give a lot more input than normal when Jackson's having a conversation with someone, and why we are so intensely proud of our son for his intelligence. It normalizes Asperger's for everyone else.
Given that the main reason I don't watch "Parenthood" is because I am already living that life and don't need to see it on the screen again, the secondary reason is that I'd rather watch a completely different "life" on the screen when I do find some time on the couch to watch TV. "Downton Abbey," (the new) "Sherlock Holmes," and "Battlestar Galactica," to name a few. Take me away to a completely different world (perhaps without Asperger's?) and I'm a happy clam. TV time is off-duty time when the kids are in bed, after all. Let me forget and relax a little bit while you watch and learn about us. Then let's meet for coffee to connect and keep it real!